While it will go down largely as an unnoticed sequence of play – some who watches the Dodgers took notice. Simply, with the second run scored in the Tampa series at Tropicana Field; the Dodgers played a little small ball.
Again, it wasn’t an exciting 3 run home run that we all buy a ticket to see. But it was good baseball. Successive plate appearances from David Freese, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner set the tone in the opening game of a series in an American League park.
First, Freese doubled to lead off the top of the third inning. Then, Muncy grounded out to second base to move him over. Finally, Turner brought balance to the sequence with a sac-fly to center.
That was NL ball in an AL park
— Clint (@DiamondHoggers) May 21, 2019
It’s not the Dodger baseball many have become accustomed to. However, it has some talking who cover the team. In this case, Pedro Moura did a segment in The Athletic on the style of play.
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticLA) May 23, 2019
Moreover, the Dodgers are calling it ‘poking holes in the defense’. Max Muncy talked about moving the ball and moving runners over on a ball in play in that situation.
“That’s just playing the game,” Muncy said. “It’s something where the situation calls for it, and it’s something that we probably weren’t very good at last year. But it’s something that we’re being very good at this year.”
Equally important, manager Dave Roberts likes what he’s seeing with this poking-holes stuff.
“For me, poking holes in the offense that’s been very good, I’d like to continue to see more of that,” Roberts said. “I think that we left some guys out there over the last week. The intent is there. Obviously, the execution is a little more tough.”
Finally, the take home message for me here is while it would be nice to win every game with 3 or 4 home runs; that isn’t realistic. That isn’t the game of baseball. Truly, these are the little things that good teams do during the course of a season to win ballgames. Call it small ball – or poking holes – even a million tiny cuts. In this game, it was against a tough AL opponent to open a road series.
And the Dodgers won the game. These are the things that good teams do that you come to appreciate – because there are a lot of teams that fundamentally don’t score this run or get this sequence nine out of ten times.